4 Strategies for Restaurants Navigating the Off-Premises Dining Evolution

The off-premises dining sector is enormous – and here to stay. While traditional options like fast-food drive-thrus and phone-in pizza orders have existed for some time, the surge in busy lifestyles, technological advancements, and consumers’ growing ease with technology has fueled a greater craving for convenience and streamlined choices. With a substantial 60% of restaurant orders now occurring offsite1, restaurants are reassessing their approaches concerning technology, operations, real estate, and finances.

There are other considerations restaurant finance teams need to make. This off-premise dining trend attracts customers seeking convenience and allows restaurants to save on space and staffing. Yet, finance teams must address packaging costs, delivery choices, and unpredictable demand challenges. Should your restaurant opt for third-party delivery, keep it in-house, or do a mixture of both? Amid stiff competition and high expectations, here are four finance strategies to manage off-premises disruptions effectively.

1. Ensure line of sight across your business 

Many operators have their point-of-sale (POS) systems integrated with the financial management platform for the visibility of real-time data with minimal effort and errors. With delivery aggregators increasingly integrating with POS systems, or operators opting to keep the ordering in-house, integrating the POS systems with the financial platform makes sense

In a fully integrated ecosystem where a cloud financial management platform, like Sage Intacct, is the hub of transactional information, your restaurant can fully leverage reporting and dashboarding capabilities with real-time data used to measure profitability, demand, and ideal price point – all while minimizing error-prone data rekeying.

2. Track the effects of your channels

Custom reporting should adapt swiftly to changing business conditions. Partnering with third-party delivery aggregators allows restaurants to save on driver fleet costs while expanding their customer reach. When deciding on in-house vs third-party delivery, restaurants must weigh added labour and technology costs against third-party fees. Effective tools are crucial for data-driven decision-making. 

Sage Intacct’s dimensional and custom reporting capabilities facilitate rapid analysis of cost and revenue drivers, providing insight into successful strategies. With summarized entity views across locations, it ensures visibility into program performance, aiding in understanding diverse customer behaviours and pricing strategies.



3. Keep a handle on indirect costs

Ghost kitchens, dedicated to off-premises orders, are gaining popularity as an extension of the offsite dining trend. They alleviate pressure on restaurant kitchens from increased delivery orders and offer a cost-effective means for testing new concepts without high location expenses. 

However, the actual costs of operating ghost kitchens are not as transparent as the name implies. Sage Intacct Dynamic Allocations can shed light on business performance in intricate scenarios. For instance, managing multiple delivery brands from a single ghost kitchen using spreadsheets may take 1 to 2 days monthly for complex cost calculations. Automating the cost allocation of overhead, such as membership fees, marketing expenses, and non-hourly wages, saves time and gives the ability to get a more accurate understanding of the profitability of  each brand. Simplifying insight-gathering enables agile and informed decision-making.

4. Monitor revenue behavior with automated daily reports

Focus more on being a forward-thinking strategist rather than delving into financial history. Third-party delivery services play a crucial role in expanding restaurants’ customer reach. However, they come with service fees ranging from 10% to 30% of orders. Contractual agreements with these services determine how restaurants should handle their sales and fees. Introducing loyalty programs further complicates matters, as restaurants must adhere to new revenue recognition standards.

To navigate these challenges and maximize profits, restaurants need up-to-date information. This includes considering options like raising prices on delivery items, implementing delivery surcharges, or creating unique delivery menus. Sage Intacct streamlines the complexities of revenue recognition through automation, enabling you to spend less time generating reports and more time on analysis and strategic planning.

As the demand for convenience among customers rises, the restaurant industry is poised for ongoing transformation. Projections indicate that the global online ordering market is set to expand tenfold by 2030, reaching $365 billion2. Off-premises ordering has become a permanent fixture and is expected to experience continuous growth.

Whether you’ve just started to consider venturing into off-premises or have dived in and stood up your own delivery fleet, challenges lie ahead in tracking the added revenue streams against new costs. Sage Intacct provides the tools to understand restaurant performance in complex scenarios so you can set your restaurant business up for success in driving customer satisfaction, even as business conditions change.

For a more in-depth look at how to navigate the off-premise revolution, download our free eBook, “Taking a Calculated Approach to the Off-Premises Revolution”. 


1. National Restaurant Association and Technomic, “Harnessing Technology to Drive Off-premises Sales” 2019
2. UBS, “Is the Kitchen Dead?” 2018

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